SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Massage Envy says reports of sexual misconduct at its franchise spas are "heartbreaking" and that it is reinforcing evaluation and reporting procedures.
The launch of a six-point plan by the national company based in Scottsdale, Arizona, follows a research report last week by the BuzzFeed News website.
Massage Envy is committed to providing good customer service and keeping them safe, CEO Joe Magnacca told reporters during a conference call Tuesday. "It has shaken us and we are looking for ways to do more," he said.
Magnacca said the company has a loyal membership, but has seen a "relatively moderate decline in membership" since the BuzzFeed report. "From a commercial perspective, we've certainly seen the impact."
The Message Envy plan includes reinforcing the screening of all message therapists and requiring that franchises provide contact information to clients who report sexual assault, authorities said. 19659003] According to the BuzzFeed report, more than 180 people across the United States filed lawsuits for sexual assault, police reports and other allegations of sexual misconduct against Massage Envy Spas, its employees and the national company.
The website reported that many of those who complained believed that their claims were mishandled or ignored by the employees and owners of the Massage Envy individual spas and by the national company.
Dozens of women reported oral and digital penetration. More than 100 reported that the masseurs touched their genitals, touched their breasts or committed other explicit violations.
In addition to providing victims with contact information for law enforcement, franchises will provide victims with a private room to make that phone call, Magnacca said.
Magnacca said that no franchise should discourage clients from reporting sexual misconduct, but that the company does not require franchises to report complaints of sexual misconduct by clients to law enforcement. "We believe that it should be a victim's choice," he said.
Melanie Hanson, general counsel of Massage Envy declined to comment on a lawsuit stemming from alleged sexual misconduct, but said the company "at this time" has not considered establishing a compensation fund.
Magnacca said that the next steps of Massage Envoy include forming an advisory board to develop, maintain and implement sound standards and create a new corporate department to oversee security policies.
"We realize that for us it will never be enough," he said.
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